A jacket from Tokyo cult label Cohérence.
You only need to be caught in one shower come rainy springtime for your mind to leap to the question: trench coat or mackintosh? But first, a note on their differences: The former, which was invented to shield Allied officers from grim weather in World War I, is double-breasted with an oversize revere collar and epaulets on the shoulders. The latter is simpler, single-breasted, with a smaller collar, raglan sleeves and an A-line silhouette.
As with many things in menswear, the winds of change blow unpredictably between the two. One season, Humphrey Bogart–style trenches are in; the next, the mac is the stormy staple of choice. The truth is neither is wrong, but this spring, attention does seem to be turning toward the mac. It’s cooler and cleaner—more Michael Caine in The Ipcress File than Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther.
The mac comes with its own set of sartorial decisions. Old English or new preppy? Rubberized cotton or waterproof gabardine? To start, familiarize yourself with the thoroughbred British heritage brands that earned the mac its early prestige. Burberry and Aquascutum are the obvious go-tos, as is Mackintosh, the originator of the rubberized cotton raincoat (and the nickname “mac”), which is better worn in truly freezing weather than in chilly spring showers.
There’s also Grenfell, a lesser-known London brand that’s been weaving lightweight waterproof gabardine into reliable rainwear since 1923. The label’s Campbell mac is a timeless choice, both practical and elegant.
For a more modern look, you could rely on mainstays like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren—both of which design new raincoats every spring—but we prefer Tokyo’s cult label Cohérence, which re-creates midcentury rainwear worn by famous artists, musicians and creatives. The sharply tailored Corb II, for instance, is inspired by French architect Le Corbusier, who preferred a jacket with a crisp silhouette.
Whatever your favored label, remember the first rule of menswear: Less is more. Skip the military look in favor of simplicity and you’ll weather this spring in style.
Check out some of our top picks below: